Real ID is impossible?

A story by Ryan Paul at Ars Technica, a computer-techy PC-oriened website, takes an informed and negative view of Real ID:
Condemned as a wasteful and self-defeating piece of reactionary legislation, critics argue that the Real ID Act will make it easier for criminals to perpetrate identity theft while actively degrading national security rather than improving it. The burden of implementation has been placed entirely on state government agencies as a dreaded "unfunded mandate," none of which have the resources or personel required to fulfill the requirements of the ill-concieved law.


Described by an Illinois official as "a nightmare for all states," the Real ID Act presents a number of extreme logistical and technological challenges. Deputy secratary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Betty Serian, remarks that:

"It is just flat out impossible and unrealistic to meet the prescriptive provisions of this law by 2008."


It is clear that Congress vastly overestimated the technological capabilities of state government agencies. Most of the technical problems relate to the extensive use of legacy systems that can't adequately interface with other remote systems. The Associated Press article includes a selection of some of the barriers preventing states from meeting the deadline, but this one is by far my favorite:

Some states' ancient computing systems will have to be overhauled in order to link to other networks. Minnesota runs a 1980s-era mainframe system; Rhode Island says its "circa 1979" COBOL-based network will require a $20 million upgrade.

The article mentions that real ID is "Opposed by more than 600 independent organizations (including the National Governors Association)."

I've published this entry with the intent of bringing more useful information to all of you, and I've tried to choose my words carefully in order not to annoy or offend anyone. There, that ought to do it.


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